ANN ARBOR, MI – Cece Duran played field hockey her whole life while growing up in Barcelona. The tall 20-year-old played so well on the Spanish club circuit, she earned a scholarship to play in America for the University of Michigan.
Being a varsity athlete is like a full-time career at UM. Constant juggling of academics with the heavy demands of the sport — practice, lifting, cardio, studying game film and more. It left little time to explore other passions.
One year of field hockey was enough, she said, as she left the team her freshman year. Duran, now known as Cece June, has spent the rest of her time at UM turning another passion for music into a burgeoning career as a singer.
June has built a following as a performer, blending the pathos of Spanish and Mediterranean lyrics with the sounds of American pop music. Her first EP “Pieces” saw more than 250,000 streams on her Spotify channel and she opened for prominent Spanish popstar Aitana at the Cerdanya Music Festival in August 2021.
Her new single “Over” premieres June 10, setting the stage for her debut record in 2023.
“I just love singing. I love writing. I love connecting with people who also connect with music,” she said.
After one year of field hockey, June discovered the endless opportunities at UM that could allow her to explore her passion for the arts.
The arts were big in her household growing up. Both of her parents are artists, with her father Carlos owning an art gallery in Barcelona. She discovered guitar and singing as a teenager during a few years living in Ireland.
Rekindling that passion for creative expression led to the creation of the song “Fragile,” which became the first single on her EP that she released in October 2020. It garnered 160,000 streams, giving her confidence to pursue music further.
The thought of music as a career was daunting as it can be hard to support oneself, she said. She wanted to approach a potential career with realistic expectations.
“I feel like dreams come and go,” she said, “but I think that the arts was definitely there for me.”
Her music is unabashedly sad at time, she said, calling herself “a lover of sad music.” She credits Irish singer Damien Rice and Radiohead as influences. This pathos also comes from the Spanish musical tradition of emotional lyrics, she said.
“Spanish music is very sentimental,” she said. “It’s almost like visceral. “I just really hope to bring that into my music, which blends my Spanish identity with the American one I’ve acquired.”
Her single “Over” is about a break-up, and it works to capture the “feeling of losing something before its due date,” she said.
“At its core, ‘Over’ narrates the residual feeling of being broken up within a time of instability,” she said. “A time when someone had never been more confident in the love between themselves and their partner. Ultimately, ‘Over’ communicates the experience of being wholeheartedly blindsided.”
Despite the intense sadness of songs such as “Over,” June said with a laugh that she is indeed a happy person.
“It’s such a dichotomy,” she said. “I actually like talking between songs because it snaps you out of that sadness. It’s like, ‘hey, it’s not that bad.’ We all have (sad) moments. Well, that’s the beauty of it.”
Entering her senior year at UM, June wants to finish her degrees in art history and political science. After that, she will see where the music takes her.
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